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China-Japan frictions moving to military field
(People's Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-23 15:59

The year 2005 has just begun and the differences between the two neighboring countries - China and Japan, instead of shrinking, are showing a dangerous sign of gradually moving frictions to the military field.

According to inside information disclosed by the Japanese Kyodo News Agency Japan Defense Agency has enacted specific action plan to defend the southwest islands. The plan decided that when something happened in the southwest islands apart from sending fighter planes and destroyers the Japan Defense Agency would dispatch as many as 55,000 soldiers of the Ground Self Defense Forces and special forces there. The so-called southwest islands mentioned in the guideline also include China's Diaoyu Island.

Officials with the Japan Defense Agency said most of the southwest islands have no troops stationed there and are blank areas in terms of territory defense. The Chinese navy keeps expanding activity scope. The SDF needs to pay attention to its future movement. The target of what he said is quite obvious.

This provocation on the part of Japan directly incensed China. Chinese FM spokesman Kong Quan said on January 18 that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's territory since the ancient times. Japan has different opinions in this regard. China always holds that China and Japan should solve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations rather than take any unilateral actions.

By comparison China's attitude is more restrained.

Over the year Japan has on the one hand disseminated the "China military threat theory" and on the other embodied this theory in its official documents. In November, 2004 the Japan Defense Agency put up the show of revealing "three possibilities of China's attack on Japan". On December 7, 2004 Japanese PM Assistant Yoriko Kawaguchi, who was attending the Meeting of European Security Cooperation Organizations, tried to dissuade the EU from lifting China arms embargo. The Japanese Defense White Paper 2004 and the report of the Security Safeguard and Defense Strength Conference" published in November, 2004 all preached the "China military threat theory". On December 10, 2004 the Japanese cabinet passed a new Defense Plan Outline, which apart from singing the old tune of "DPRK threat theory" puts the "China military threat theory" into this official government security policy document for the first time.

In 2004 Japan sped up the pace toward a military power of "Japan-US integration" and "overseas intervention" in such aspects as security strategy, relevant systems and armament etc. International public opinion believes that Japan resorts to the strategy of "a thief crying 'stop thief'" and try to fan the "China military threat theory" to clear public opinion obstacles both at home and abroad.

In such an atmosphere the China-Japan security mutual trust fell even lower. The "security dilemma" of being mutually guarded has not been eased. PM Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine again killed the mutual visits by fleets of the two countries. Military exchange was in a stagnant state.

Jin Xide, a research fellow at the Japan Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "enhancing mutual trust" would be an import subject in China-Japan relations in 2005. In the new year the possibility that China and Japan make breakthrough in the security area is rather low.

In 2005 the competent departments of the Chinese and Japanese governments would continue to carry out dialogues and negotiations centered on mutual differences and cooperation. These questions involve wide areas such as the demarcation of the East China Sea and oil gas field exploitation as well as economics and trade, technology, energy and environmental protection etc. The defense departments of the two countries would continue to launch security dialogues and military exchanges at various levels. Due to the high sensitivity of these areas this kind of dialogues would be influenced and limited by the China-Japan political relations. On the other hand, the possibility whether a stable security dialogue and military exchange system relatively independent of the political frictions between the two countries can be established has been listed into agenda as an important way of thinking.

In recent years the thought of mutual visits by Chinese and Japanese fleets has long attracted attention as an important link to expand military exchange and enhance security mutual trust. In 2005 if the question of PM Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is solved appropriately, political atmosphere surrounding the two countries thaws and warms up, public opinions of China and Japan grows relaxed, this projection may resurface. However, the Liberal Democratic Party - the governing party in Japan adopted a new policy guideline on Jan. 18, which proclaimed support of PM Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. This made observers of the China-Japan relations even more nervous.

The Japanese economy sank into a long depression after 1991 whilst China entered an economic blast-off in the 1990s. Meanwhile the intension of the Japanese decision-making body to break through the "peace constitution" drawing on "pressure" from the US is growing increasingly clear. Its will to become a political power and a military power has grown stronger. Under the influence of these factors competition between China and Japan and their watchful mentality form a vicious circle.

On the question of history the Japanese right-wring conservative forces keep instigating incidents to reverse the history of Japan's invasion of China. China is forced to make restrained response after long forbearance. All the facts prove that the one who is "holding tight to the historical question" is Japan, not China.

Military disputes repeat the routine of the historical question. Japan keeps instigating incidents and China is forced to respond. The military tone of Japan's China policy is becoming increasingly thicker. Japan's China diplomacy is growing "aggressive".

Today's Japanese decision-making body is deviating from the peaceful development course based on reflecting on defeated war experience and is attempting to revive the "past power and prestige" backed by might. For Japan a stable external environment built by means of good neighborhood diplomacy and peace should be a less costly and more efficient way. To choose a way of befriending distant states while attacking those nearby would not necessarily bring about Japan's increased security. Moreover, if even the neighboring countries refuse support how is it possible for Japan to fulfill its "political power dream"?

Recently some people in China, failing to truly understand Japan's political intention and means, have claimed to want to "find solution for the China-Japan relations". But the prescription they wrote was so crude as to say that China should make a comprehensive concession toward Japan! The Japanese have made complete study of some Chinese's psychological weaknesses and have become tough even on questions whose nature is so clear as visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.

Jin Xide believes that we should have a clear understanding and accept the reality that the China-Japan "chilly politics" cannot be completely avoided, and make better mental preparation for the fluctuation of the China-Japan political relations, give up the illusion of making unilateral concession so as to exchange for a "hot-politics" situation. This way will be more conducive to calmer and rational handling of the China-Japan political frictions and steady advance of the China-Japan relations.

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